Fixed PA Online Gambling Bill Now in Hands of the Senate

October 29th 2016 | Ivan Potocki

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PA online gambling bill has been passed on to the Senate, but what will happen there is anybody’s guess.

The question of online poker and gambling legislation in Pennsylvania keeps dragging on. Thursday saw House members vote on a complex bill aimed at dealing with many issues, including the unconstitutional gaming law in the state, and passing it on to the Senate.

At this point in time, it seems that the biggest issue is the fact that everything that needs to be dealt with has been placed in the same bill. So, the bill would not only set up a legal framework for online gambling, but it would also offer a legislative fix, following the recent Supreme Court ruling, which struck down the municipal share of the tax paid by most of the brick & mortar casinos.

Indirectly, the decision also affected PA counties, including Washington and Allegheny. The Supreme Court gave the legislators four months to fix the legislation, because they deemed the current one, forcing casinos to pay municipal taxes, unconstitutional.

PA Online Gambling Bill: What’s Really at Stake

Although we are mostly focused on the online poker regulation, the bill was drafted in such a way that it is either passed in its entirety or not at all. The real issue, it seems, is not the online gambling at all. The state already counts with the $100 million budget injection the legislation would secure.

But, there is a catch.

Local lawmakers are facing a tough decision with the PA online gambling bill. Voting against it would mean a huge hit for the counties, which would stand to lose around $140 million in slot machine taxes paid by land-based establishments.

PA online gambling bill

Local lawmakers are facing a dilemma with PA online gambling bill, because the local taxation issue is an integral part of the proposal

Voting yes would be going against Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, owned by Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire who’s been a stark opponent of online gambling since day one. Sands has never had an issue with paying their dues to municipalities and counties.

PA Online Gambling Bill Lost in Bigger Issues

The Senate will be deciding on the legislation in November, but it is quite clear that there is a much bigger fish to fry here. It is quite possible for PA online gambling bill, which would also regulate online poker, will be blocked due to more pressing concerns.

The new legislation proposes a flat $10 million fee for the casinos instead of the old tax burdens, but Mount Airy Casino, who brought the case before the Supreme Court, are opposing this idea as well. They are threatening legal actions again.

PA online gambling bill

As thing stand right now, PA online gambling bill could fail simply because it contains stipulations that have nothing to do with online poker or gambling whatsoever

Not being a lawyer, politician, or tax exper myself, I admit I am not fully able to explain the situation and everything that’s at stake here. However, what is perfectly clear is that PA online gambling bill is being hold back for reasons that have nothing to do with online poker or gambling.

Why these two bills couldn’t have been presented separately eludes my understanding, but perhaps that’s because I am not a politician or a lawyer.

Ivan Potocki on EmailIvan Potocki on Twitter
Ivan Potocki
Ivan Potocki
Assistant Editor and Columnist at Beat The Fish
Ivan first started playing poker in 2006 and played professionally from 2010-2013. He holds a BA in English language and literature. Since joining the Beat The Fish team in 2016 Ivan has made an immediate impact, leading the news section and contributing numerous feature articles. You can reach Ivan directly at ivanpotocki@gmail.com

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